Church of England May Name First Woman Bishop by Year-End

The Church of England will vote next month on the consecration of women bishops and may be ready to make an appointment before the end of 2014.

The governing Synod of the church, which is headed by Queen Elizabeth II, will vote at its meeting in York, northern England, on July 14 after failing to pass the relevant legislation with the required two-thirds majority in 2012.

“There’s huge expectation around the Church of England that this time the legislation will go through,” William Fittall, the church’s secretary general, told reporters in London today. “If the legislation is lost, the surprised reaction we saw in the church and beyond in November 2012 would be as nothing to what we would see this time. There would be shock and bemusement.”

In 2012, two of the three houses of the Synod, representing bishops and the clergy, voted by the necessary two-thirds majority, while representatives of lay Anglicans failed to give the measure enough support. The legislation has been simplified and provisions included to reassure traditionalists and evangelicals who oppose women becoming bishops, Fittall said.

If the vote is passed, the legislation will need to be debated and voted on by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. If those steps can be taken in time, the law could be changed at the synod’s next meeting on Nov. 17, allowing the first women bishops to be consecrated.

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